A better way to review books online?

A good read

Angela is absolutely right in her post about the sorry state of Goodreads.

Last year, I lamented the poor design of Goodreads — a much-needed platform where readers can review books they’ve read and track those they want to. Poor search functionality, ugly aesthetics, an embarrassingly terrible recommendation algorithm, and buried club and group features make the site unpleasant to use. Since the story came out, Goodreads hasn’t done much to improve its deficiencies. Instead, it seems content to rest on its laurels as a near-monopoly owned by Amazon, benefiting from its massive existing user base while being, apparently, deserted by its design team.

It is a joke, even ebay has made changes to improve not just the look but experience of their system (not to say its great however). Goodreads feels like sites before web 2.0 boom. Regardless it has a massive audience, I can’t work out why either?

The post talks about all the different examples people are doing to create their own goodreads alternative using sites like Glitch and Medium. Its a good-read (pun intended) but I found it interesting there was no mention of some of the indieweb (hreview microformats) and fediverse systems (Bookwyrm).

Of course all of them require more technical effort than a webly, glitch, etc but I thought it would be worth mentioning.

1 month of trying web monetization

Web montization

I wrote last month how I was giving web monetization a try.

I decided to go with the option where people with the coil extension would pay a small fee but its still available to the public. There was a consideration that I could make certain posts such as my publicserviceinternet notes.

Its been surprising to see the money come through on uphold. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a way to stop uphold emailing me each time I got new money (seems to be an option which could be useful)

£3.48 for a month Over a month and a bit. I made £3.48 from having installed the coil extension. Not bad for a month, and its more than I was expecting. its certainly more than the changetip I had originally (I wouldn’t mind if it went straight into uphold as a cryptocurrancy rather than currency actually – Sure there is a way to do this but not found it yet).

Enough to buy a expensive pour over coffee in one of my favourite northern quarter coffee places. Not quite enough to cover the domain name but if things stay as they are, it will easily cover a few of my domain names renewals for a year.

So where do we go from here? Well I’ll leave it as it as it currently is set for now but I might give the option of coil only members a try on a post or two in the future.

Thanks to Cyberdees for connecting me with this, I like the non-tracking and if I was running other sites I would add coil to it. I may end up doing another post in 6 months to see what happens in the future. There is something good here.

Trying Indigenous social timeline app

IndieWeb ecosystem
When I first saw this last year, I instantly thought about small pieces loosely joined

Last year I went to IndieWebCampBerlin, I learned a lot and really enjoyed it. One of the things I found most interesting is the indieweb ecosystem and in the indieweb way, how people were creating parts of the ecosystem. This is quite a different to the way existing social networks are built, dare I mentioned protocols not platforms again.

There was an app which was mentioned a few times as a example of how it could work. Indigenous, which supports micropub (publishing) and microsub (subscription) across the different pub/sub supporting services. It was neat but I couldn’t get it working on my Android phone. Mainly down to the Indieauth which didn’t work well with this blog. So I kinda left it till this week.

Indigenous allows you to engage with the internet as you do on social media sites, and post on your IndieWeb powered website or a federated instance like Mastodon, Pleroma or Pixelfed

Using Indigenous on Android

Unlike last time, there is a better more user-friendly introduction to the app. It seems to set up a default user for you and allows you add other accounts to it. I assume once you finally add a indieweb account it will release the default user and move the added accounts.

I added my Mastodon and Pixelfed account did a test post using Mastodon in Indigenous.

I did try and post it via Pixelfed but it didn’t seem to work, so I used Mastodon instead. So far so good, but I hoped to still get IndieAuth working but still no dice unfortunately.

It was only a day ago when I realised there was a desktop version, a electron app for Linux, so I gave it a try.

Its a bit different but I recognise parts. Although I couldn’t find the account part s wasn’t able to try the indieauth.

Expect more posting as I explore more, of course if anyone has pointers…? Do jump into the comments/web mentions or drop me something on Mastodon or Twitter.

Clearview AI GDPR’s reply

Today I got my reply from Clearview AI after I submitted my request

Clearview AI GDPR request submitted

The reply was short…

Subject: No Results

Hello,
You are receiving this email as a response to your request for data access. After running the photo provided through our algorithm, no results were found.
You can click here to learn more about how Clearview collects the images that appear as search results, and how those images are used and shared.
Regards,
Clearview Privacy Team
I don’t buy it… and feel like I should try again with a slightly different picture for reference. I was looking forward to reporting them to the ICO, although they never followed up on my houseparty complaint.

Some interesting Indieweb developments

Person with chromebook
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Update with more conference details

I’ve been keeping an eye on whats happening in the next/web3/fediverse/indieweb space, here are a few things I found interesting

Theres a virtual conference about everything Activitypub.

Activitypub.rocks

A conference about the present and future of ActivityPub, the world’s leading federated social web standard.

Looks like a good virtual conference, and don’t forget to register for it.

One to mark the calendar and another one…

I  noticed there is a Fediverse , sessions and sign up here.

I was mentioning webmentions to someone the other day and wondering if there was other places webmentions could work beyond the typical scenarios. So when I saw Whim (a command-line utility for sending, receiving, and working with webmentions) with these features

Daemon to receive and store incoming webmentions
Webmention verifier, suitable for scheduled operation
A tool for sending webmentions, individually or en masse (given a source URL)
Commands to query a local database of received webmentions
Simple webserver to display webmention-powered comment sections as HTML, suitable for JavaScript-driven insertion into an otherwise static webpage

Talking about indieweb and fediverse software, I’m impressed the long list of other software projects. Theres some neat projects there including

  • dokieli looks good as its hits so many of the standards I’m interested in, especially the web annotations.
  • reel2bits looks like funkwhale but maybe more webby
  • gath.io is a quick and easy way to make and share events. Events are public with the special link, its like what doodle.com does.
  • bookwyrm is a federated book reviewing system, aka a fedi-goodreads

Lastly a couple of things, although loosely indieweb/fediverse related.

I was interested to hear Kaliya Young on Floss weekly recently. Kaliya I have met a few times at the Mydata conference. Self-sovereign identity and the use of verifiable credentials and decentralized identifiers is a interesting area. I get the concept but haven’t had the chance to set one up yet. Last year after going to the Indiewebcamp, I setup indieauth which works in a similar way? In actual fact, it finally worked for me on retrying it.

I felt Kaliya did a reasonable job of explaining it but you can tell by the questions she was getting, people were not following. I recommend the Mydata 2018 talk although its moved on quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong its a very difficult thing to get, especially with audio only.

However I did catch Kaliya saying how important standards are and some kind of implementation. I very much agree, this is why I love what the indieweb community do. It also reminded me of something I heard on the twit podcast network too. Protocols not platformsProtocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech.

Lets also not forget the experiment I’m part of with Web Monitization. So far its pretty good without having to block access to my postings. I’m sure there will be an update in a future blog post.

I’m giving web monetization a try

Recently I gave the web monetization a try thanks to the amazing CyberDees.

I was aware of the web monetisation project after reading about the amazing grant for the web. But generally I don’t really think about monetizing my blog because its generally a hassle, I can’t stand the ad tracking and I worry about random stuff which I don’t agree with in my space.

Currently I get about 8-10 emails a day asking to replace links with their own. I generally ignore them now but they never stop and they always ask if they could guest write a blog for me. So I’ve been thinking maybe I should find a way where I stay in control of everything?

Hence the interest in web monetisation and tipjars. Actually one of the first things I looked at was flattr a while ago. Theres a good comparison of the two here.

Setting it up was quite easy with some direction from Cyberdees.

The process involving signing up to Coil, installing a wordpress extension and then somewhere to store/exchange money (ILP-enabled digital wallet) which was Upheld.

Once its all setup, I just need to turn it on. This is where I am…

I could turn it on and block all access to my blog unless you have a web monetisation plugin. But thats not what I want to do. I noticed in the editor theres the options per post or page.

Web monitization

  • Monetized and Public (default) – Allow all visitors to see the content, get paid when your visitor is a Coil Member
  • Coil Members Only – Only allow Coil Members to see the content
  • No Monetization – Allow all visitors to see the content, don’t get paid when your visitor is a Coil Member

So I was considering maybe making certain posts monetised, for example I could make all the public service internet notes pay to read? Maybe I could write some exclusive posts even?

But right now, I’m going to turn on monetized and public for my blog as a kind of tip jar type of thing. I’ll do it for a bit and see how things turn out. I’m not looking to make a boat of money, if its enough to cover a year of a domain name that would be cool.

Think of it as a beta test… I’ll review in a couple of months if I don’t forget that its turned on. Do let me know if theres any problems accessing the site. I also guess the RSS will stay as it is right now, but there is people looking at how to add web monetization to rss/xml/atom feeds. One thing I’d like to see is something of a timer on the montisation, so it could switch on or off after a certain amount of hours/days/weeks.

Clearview AI GDPR request submitted

Clearview AI

There is so much to say about Clearview AI. If you never heard of them, well put it this way…

They have amassed a database of peoples faces by illegally scraping the likes of facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube, flickr, etc, etc… All the companies have sent legal cease and desists but Clearview don’t seem to really care too much. Recently they were hacked allowing exposing all those pictures and training data to attackers.

Because of this and my experience with the IBM Dif project, I wanted to know if I’m in the database and the best way to find out is to send a GDPR request. This all follows my GDPR request from Houseparty just recently,

I think they have gotten serious about the EU and the UK because I didn’t need to send my usual email. I filled in the form using my junk mail and used my Estonian digital ID for verification.

Look forward to seeing what comes back. I’m expecting quite a lot.

Of course IBM, Microsoft and Amazon have backed away (for now) from their facial recognition systems because the huge amount of bias of the datasets have against black people. We will see how long they will keep this line over the year and next year?

Update
In my inbox from for the two requests…

EU/UK/Switzerland Data Access Form Request
EU/UK/Switzerland Data Objection Form Request

This e-mail is to confirm that we have received your EU/UK/Switzerland Data (Access/Objection) Request. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Team Clearview

My Houseparty GDPR data dump

During the start of the Covid19 lockdown, I was convinced by friends to try houseparty and decided it was pretty crappy so stopped using it as mentioned in a previous blog.

After many emails I finally got my personal GDPR data copy. From Hotel Charlie!

I can’t tell you how much hassle its been… even when they sent me a horribly long link (we are talking about 300 characters long) to the zip file, it would expire a few hours later on their Amazon S3 bucket.

<Error>
<Code>ExpiredToken</Code>
<Message>The provided token has expired.</Message>
<Token-...{very large token}...</Token>
</Error>

Finally once I got it… It was a zip file with a index.html and 5 different folders.

  • room_visits / room_visits.html
  • profiles /profile.html
  • photos / 216A9AAE57194410901F8BA7981E63AB (a png file)
  • interactions / interactions.html
  • friends / friends.html

All the .html files are horrible tables for example here is interactions.html

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <title>Room Visits</title>
</head>
<style>
table {
    border-collapse: collapse;
}
table, th, td {
    border: 1px solid black;
}
</style>
<body>
<table border="1">
    <tr>
        <td>Room ID</td>
        <td>Room Visit Start Date</td>
        <td>Room Visit End Date</td>
        <td>Users</td>
    </tr>
    
    <tr>
        <td>e021116-bae-44d6-cc17-9121fbeaccc13</td>
        <td>
    2020-06-45T21:23:11Z
</td>
        <td>
    2020-06-11T21:16:41Z
</td>
        <td>
            <ul>
            
            </ul>
        </td>
    </tr>
    
</table>

</body>
</html>

The data isn’t that interesting but I think thats because I wasn’t using the app just my Chromium browser. I also only friended one person, so its all pretty slim on data.

Not that interesting but I’m very sure theres lots they have on me, however I requested my account is deleted. There is no way to delete your account if you are using the browser and the Android app from within the system. You have to request deletion!

My next GDPR request is for Clearview AI!

Every once in a while its a win win for all, except the algorithms

Tampon box in disabled loo

Every once in a while I like messing with the algorithms which rule our world. As Cory says in this critical piece, found via Ade,

Machine learning is fundamentally conservative, and it hates change. If you start a text message to your partner with “Hey darling,” the next time you start typing a message to them, “Hey” will beget an autosuggestion of “darling” as the next word, even if this time you are announcing a break-up.

This isn’t a new thing and I have to thank Miles who gave me the idea a long time ago to mess with the algorithms every once in a while.

Every once in a while, when I feel the recommendations are getting pretty good I buy something completely different. For example with Google I’ve done some very strange things, but the impact isn’t so clearly felt as with shopping algorithms.

Recently I bought tampons which were 2 for the price of 1 on Tesco online. I bought them because I wanted to screw up the algorithm but more importantly I wanted to support my female colleagues (extra special shout out to Jasmine) who have been fighting the good fight to provide women & girls with free sanitary products in BBC buildings. As they really should have!

Maybe this is a triple win, one for my colleagues, two for messing up Tesco’s recommendations and three for my pocket? What ever it is, I noticed Tesco recommendation now includes pointers to shampoo products which I certainly don’t need  but makes me laugh the algorithm is so easily manipulated.

Already planning similar on Amazon and Ebay…

Decentralisation an important step forward

Its easy to think decentralisation is a new fanged thing the savvy technorati talk about while drinking their double macha latte. But the importance of decentralised networks is made very clear in this VOX piece and the video.

The secret ecosystem of my personal data is being prepared

Recently in the last public service internet note, I posted…

The secret ecosystem of personal data is being unfolded

Ian thinks: People are having fun with this right now, wonder how many people will actually request their data? I put my request in a few days ago, will you?

I sent my requests off a few days following my GDPR dating data template. I’ve had quite a few replies from Sift in the last few weeks.

Starting with this one a day after my formal GDPR request

Thank you for reaching out to Sift. Due to recent press coverage, we are experiencing a high volume of data access requests. We are scaling our operations to accommodate all requests and appreciate your patience. Please expect a followup email to help us verify your identity so that your data does not fall into the wrong hands. Separately, we’ve answered a few commonly asked questions below.

What does Sift do?
Sift provides fraud prevention services to online businesses, e.g. e-commerce. Our goal is to make the internet a safer place so that businesses and their users (like you) don’t have to worry about fraud. You can learn more about our mission here.

We only use your data to provide fraud prevention services to our customers – we do not sell, share, or use your data for any other purpose. For more details about how our service works and what types of data we process, please see our Service Privacy Notice.

How may I access the data that Sift processes about me?
In order to process your data access request, we need to verify your identity to ensure that we are sharing your data with you and not a fraudster impersonating you. As unlikely as that sounds, it happens more often than you’d expect. Please expect a followup email with instructions on how to verify your identity.

How soon will Sift process my request?
Once we verify your identity, we will honor all requests under the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) within ninety (90) days per Article 12(3) of the GDPR for verified EU citizens only. Please note we are extending this period by sixty (60) days due to the high volume of requests.

All other requests, including those from the United States, will take more time. We thank you for your patience as we must give priority to those requests for which our timely response is legally required.

Can you provide my score?
If you have requested your “Sift Score” or other type of consumer score, we’d like to clarify that Sift does not have a “Sift Score” for you (or any user) because we don’t score users; we score user interactions on a specific website for a specific type of fraud. We calculate the likelihood of whether actions you have taken on a Sift customer site are associated with specific types of fraud. The actions we analyze depends on the particular Sift product our customer uses.

However, these interactions do not add up into a single Sift Score about you. A single score is not an effective way of assessing fraud. Instead, the best way to predict fraud and provide users like you the best possible experience is to analyze each specific interaction. For more information on scores, please read our blog post here.

And then a few days later…

Thank you for contacting Sift support! We received your email and typically respond within one business day for questions related to Sift’s suite of products. In the meantime, you can browse our Help Center for answers to some common questions: https://support.sift.com/hc/en-us

Best,

The Sift Support Team

Finally I got the email to verify my identity, which needed to be done within 14 days of the email with a unique link. Which I needed to type in my phone number for the service to then send another unique link to my phone.

Verification is done via a 3rd party service called Berbix inc, and required me to scan my driving license or passport then a selfie and the site tells you to strike a pose and take a selfie (prove its not just a photo). Its all done on the phone using chrome browser rather than an app (thankfully). I had a read of their privacy policy of course and Sift’s.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing what they send me back…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2019)

The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band - Brian Eno
The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the endless attempts to regain our trust from the big corps.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with hard work going into building an open hardware ebook reader.

 

A framework for human values

Ian thinks: This work is so essential for all public service, non-profits and government organisations. Starting to chip away at what value means beyond the attention economy.

Yancey co-founder of Kickstarter talks about a new framework called bentosim (full episode)

Ian thinks: Yancey  talks a good game about going beyond financial maximization and society changes but I’m not convinced about bentoism.

Another attempt at the decentralized file-storage system

Ian thinks: Its another attempt, good idea combining projects but wondering about the applications of use?

China’s free market system grab on other economies

Ian thinks: Maybe Jamies conspiracy is a little heavy but a good thoughtful podcast

Introducing the Dweb

Ian thinks: good introduction by ex Mozillan written a few years ago but parts later are up to date

Panel about sex-tech from Techcrunch (NSFW)

Ian thinks: Sex tech grows its own infrastructure to over come the adolescent thoughts of the tech industry

He used the tech and wasn’t used by the tech

Ian thinks: Vinnie and Douglas talk about the importance of the human element in music and everything.

Why you shouldn’t go to Harvard?

Ian thinks: Got to love Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis of the university system, although maybe not quite right. He’s funny and rolls the research into a great story.

The secret ecosystem of personal data is being unfolded

Ian thinks: People are having fun with this right now, wonder how many people will actually request their data? I put my request in a few days ago, will you?

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2019)

Carole Cadwalladr & Paul-Olivier Dehaye's deep dive into the great hackCarole Cadwalladr & Paul-Olivier Dehaye's deep dive into the great hack

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the endless twitter fighting.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with Matt Mullenweg’s comments about a open and diverse web after buying tumblr.

Don’t forget if you find this useful, you will find “Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?” at the RSA London on 21st October  2019, right up your street.

 

Watching the labrats scurrying away

Ian thinks: Recently read Labrats book after seeing Dan Lyons at Thinking Digital. Its quite a raw insider view on silicon valley culture, the laughable and the horrific sides in equal lashings.

The Great Hack Workshop from Mydata 2019

Ian thinks: This was one of the highlights of Mydata 2019. Carole Cadwalladr & Paul-Olivier Dehaye’s deep dive into the build up to the great hack was fascinating. Lots of useful resources were revealed.

Are Boris Johnson’s PR People Manipulating Google Search?

Ian thinks: True or not, our dependence on a single search engine/service makes any potential manipulating even more impactful.

Ted Nelson on Hypertext, Douglas Englebart and Xanadu

Ian thinks: Its always amazing to see pioneers who narrowly missed out pushing concepts which were too early, but could come back.

Look out here comes the hyperledgers

Ian thinks: More ledger/blockchain projects to power your projects than you can shake a stick at. Very happy at least some are open-source.

ReasonTV’s look at the Decentralised web

Ian thinks: I was expecting something light touch but having Cory Doctorow mainly interviewed means its got some depth.

Etiquette and privacy in the age of IoT

Ian thinks: Etiquette tends to be forgotten in the advancement of  technology. I don’t consider it rude to shut off a Alexa, I’m sure others will disagree.

Tipping etiquette set by user interface

Ian thinks: Talking about etiquette, very interesting to see norms set by user interface design decisions. Obviously set to benefit the company but its stuck now.

Exploiting technology or exploited by technology?

Ian thinks: Curious tale, but it does raise a question about digital access and backups. Least we forget about power and when things go technically wrong.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Sept 2019)

johnny mnemonic

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or watch how democracy is being gamed and broken. To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

With a focus on new models in business, technology, society, policy, processes, etc. I present my public service internet newsletter.

You are seeing aspects of this happening as people rethink public transport.

Don’t forget if you find this useful, you will find “Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?” at the RSA London on 21st October  2019, right up your street.

Reflections on capitalism gone wild system

Ian thinks: Rushkoff’s monologue at Betaworks Studio is breathless, funny, tragic and worth every minute of your time.

Ghosts in the smart home

Ian thinks: Lancaster University’s short about smart homes, is a design fiction which is fun, informative and enjoyable to watch. Sure some the living room of the future and petras workstream had a influence?

Black lives matter’s alternative systems

Ian thinks: Theres a question later about the media, Alicia talks about creating their own systems not just relying on what already exists.

Surveillance systems head to head 

Ian thinks: Cambridge Analytica’s whistle blower and Russian investigative journalist, go head to head discussing surveillance capitalism and government surveillance.

Suicide Is an epidemic and therapy apps are not helping

Ian thinks: As we turn to apps for everything a thoughtful look at therapy apps market good and bad. Theres not an app for everything.

The real johnny mnemonic (contains surgery pictures)

Ian thinks: Ever since Quantified Self people started embedding NFC under the skin, I wondered how far it would go. Perfect name for the software

We are not ready, privacy in 2019

Ian thinks: Really good list of the leaks, abuses, dumps and thoughts if we are ready for even more? Question is how many more before the end of year?

Emotional and erotic intelligence for an enlighten future (NSFW)

Ian thinks: Although a talk about sextech is uncomfortable for people, the subject of intimacy, human connection and self reflection are so much more important than our personal discomfort.

Danilo Milovanović public space interventions

Ian thinks: Excellent to see more thoughtful playful artistic interventions in the public realm.